A lightened up pasta salad made with salami, grape tomatoes, black olives, red onion and parmesan cheese all tossed in a tangy homemade dressing!
Ok loves, I have a confession… I used to make pasta salad from a box. I know I know… really Caitlin?? *Hides face in shame* But yes, it’s true. My family was never that “adventuresome” growing up so that’s just what we did. BUT I finally decided to branch out a few months ago and started making my own! Let me tell ya babes… GAME CHANGER! That store bought boxed stuff doesn’t even come close to this delicious goodness. So today we’re talking all things pasta salad. Starting, of course, with my delicious Italian pasta salad recipe!
First things first, what type of noodle should I use?
Honestly, it’s all up to you. That’s the great part about pasta salad – you can basically make it however you want! Of course some pastas will work better than others though. (I mean I don’t remember the last time I saw an angel hair pasta salad or one using fettuccine. 😉 ) So stick to the shorter and smaller pastas for the best results. Or if you’re gluten free, use gluten free pasta instead! We also want to cook our pasta al dente, which is really just a fancy word for “firm to the bite”. We want it soft and pliable on the outside but still slightly firm when you bite down on it. Also a little tip, make sure to heavily salt your pasta water before putting your pasta in to boil. This helps the pasta to absorb all the flavor from the salt which makes it much more tasty for your dish.
Next topic: Mix-ins!
My favorite! And also my kryptonite because WHAT THE HECK DO YOU PUT IN IT?! Sometimes I go overboard and put in way too many ingredients while other times it’s like, “is there even anything else here?” So I developed the 3:1:1 Rule for myself. 3 veggies, 1 meat, 1 cheese. That’s it, stop, no more! Crazy Caitlin can do whatever she wants for dessert! 😉 For example, in this recipe I have tomatoes, olives and red onion (my 3 veggies), salami (my meat) and parmesan (my cheese). See how easy that is? AND if you don’t want any meat, just up the number of veggies from 3-4! In terms of how much of each to add, again that’s completely up to you. I measured everything that I used for this recipe but please feel free to add a little more or less of whichever ingredient you want.
Last but not least, the dressing!
Ayy this one… Honestly I feel like dressings can really make or break your pasta salad, so I’m very VERY picky about them! I prefer making my own but you can also use a store bought salad dressing for a quick fix too if you prefer. Almost any vinaigrette dressing will do and just use enough to lightly coat the pasta. BUT if you’re dying for a killer all-made-from-scratch recipe, then check out my Italian dressing recipe below! It only uses 5 ingredients, is super tasty and super easy!
So what does pasta salad go with?
Answer: Soooo many things! This salad I paired with a nice grilled chicken breast and some sauteed zucchini on the side. But you can also pair it with steak, grilled sausages or even make a simple meal of it on it’s own. (Sometimes I’ll top it over a bed of lettuce and just eat it like any other salad. It’s just too darn tasty to pass up!)
So you see loves, this Italian pasta salad is soo easy, incredibly simple and (most importantly) ridiculously DE-LI-CIOUS! I don’t know about you, but this will definitely be making an appearance at ALL of my bbq’s this summer.
Hope you all enjoy it too! 🙂
[Made one of my recipes? Make sure to tag my social media @kalefornia_kravings – I love seeing what you create!]
Italian Pasta Salad
For the salad:
- 1 box tri-color rotini pasta*
- 1 9oz package of hard salami, cut into cubes**
- 1½ grape tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 6oz can sliced black olives
- ½ red onion, cut into thin slices
- ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
For the dressing:
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (or extra light tasting olive oil)***
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the dressing and set it aside.
- Cook the pasta according to it's package. Set it aside to cool.
- Once the pasta has cooled, place it in a bowl and add the salami, tomatoes, olives and red onion. Stir to combine.
- Pour your dressing over the pasta and stir. Add your cheese and stir again. Store the salad in fridge until your ready to eat.